Skip to main content
Start of content
Start of content

e-2576 (Democratic process)

Initiated by Steve Hamilton from Prince george, British Columbia

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Government of Canada

  • On May 1, 2020, the Liberal government introduced an Order in Council to change the classification of many firearms in Canada;
  • This executive order strips law-abiding Canadians of their legally purchased property;
  • This unfairly targets Canadian firearms owners who are already among the most vetted in Canadian society. Possession and Acquisition License (PAL) and Restricted PAL (RPAL) holders are subject to daily screening and are statistically proven to be less likely to commit crimes than non-PAL and non-RPAL holders;
  • According to Regulation 117.5(2), an Order in Council may not be used: "In making regulations, the Governor in Council may not prescribe any thing to be a prohibited firearm, a restricted firearm, a prohibited weapon, a restricted weapon, a prohibited device or prohibited ammunition if, in the opinion of the Governor in Council, the thing to be prescribed is reasonable for use in Canada for hunting or sporting purposes";
  • It is the opinion of the Governor in Council that these firearms included in the Order are unsuitable for hunting or sporting purposes;
  • Justice Minister David Lametti stated: “There will be an exception for Indigenous peoples exercising a section 35 hunting right, as well as those who use the weapon for hunting to feed themselves or their family”;
  • An exemption shows that these firearms are clearly suitable; and
  • Multiple premiers have stated that this ban will not be effective in preventing crime and money would be better allocated towards targeting criminals.
We, the undersigned, citizens of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to immediately repeal the Order in Council issued May 1, 2020.

Response by the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Joël Lightbound, M.P

Canadians deserve to live in a society where they can feel safe and secure from gun violence. The Government ofCanada has prohibited assault-style firearms as they are not reasonable for hunting or sport shooting purposes given theinherent danger that they pose to public safety. The prohibition limits access to the most dangerous firearms that arecharacterized by their design and their capability of inflicting significant harm to Canadians. The prohibition reduces thenumber and availability of assault style firearms and other firearms that exceed safe civilian use in Canada, and lowersthe possibility of these firearms being diverted to the illegal market.

For decades chiefs of police had been advocating for additional restrictions, and even a prohibition, of military-style assault rifles. The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police previously passed a resolution declaring that military assault rifles were produced for the “sole purpose of killing people in large numbers” and asked the Minister of Justice to “ban all military assault rifles except for law enforcement and military purposes.” Last September the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police expressed support for a prohibition on all military-designed assault rifles, averring that “these weapons have no place in our communities and should be reserved for use by Canada’s military and law enforcement.”

The current Chief of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police has declared that this prohibition “finds balance” as it “ensures the safety of our members” while not limiting “those that recreationally participate in hunting or those that actually live off the land.”

Through Section 117.15 of the Criminal Code, Parliament provides the Government with the authority to prescribe theclassification of firearms. We have exercised that authority to benefit the safety and security of Canadians, within limitsset by Parliament. The affected firearms are prohibited as they (1) have semi-automatic action with sustain rapid-firecapability (tactical/military design with large magazine capacity), (2) are of modern design, and (3) are present in largevolumes in the Canadian market. This authority has existed for decades and has been exercised several times over theyears including by the previous Conservative Government.

We have been clear that our prohibition will be fair to law-abiding hunters or sport shooters. We have also signaled ourintent to implement a buyback program that will provide compensation to affected owners. We are looking at a range ofoptions, and will work with Parliament as well as the provinces and territories (PTs) to get this right for law-abiding gunowners and businesses. While the prohibition is a crucial first step, it is only one of a series of measures that we will to take to target firearm related crime in this country. At the first opportunity we will introduce legislation that will strengthen gun control. We intend to introduce a red-flag regime in order to better protect public safety, strengthen firearms storage requirements to deter theft, enhance police tracing capacity, and work with our partners from other levels of government to give municipalities the ability to further restrict handguns.

We are also committed to combatting gun-related violence and gang activities and to strengthening border security, andincreasing police anti-gang capacities. This will build on work that is already underway. We announced funding of up to $327.6 million over five years through the Initiative to Take Action Against Gun and Gang Violence (the Initiative) to combat gun-related violence and gang activities, including by supporting law enforcement and community-led projects focused on prevention.

More than $200 million is now flowing directly to PTs to target initiatives that best meet the unique needs of individualcommunities to advance efforts in areas of prevention, gang exit, outreach and awareness training as well as enhancedintelligence sharing and law enforcement capacity. With the funding allocations, jurisdictions have made investments tosupport new law enforcement activities including specialized training and education initiatives and improving datacollection and information sharing. PTs have also prioritized a number of prevention intervention initiatives. Building onthese achievements, our Government has committed to investing additional funding to help municipalities meet theneeds of communities at risk to fight gang-related violence and expand diversion programs to keep youth out of thecriminal justice system.

The Government knows that the cross-border smuggling of firearms also poses a threat to the safety and security ofCanadians. We are committed to taking action to prevent smuggled guns from entering Canada. We will introducetougher penalties for trafficking and smuggling offences and will continue to make important investments in the CanadaBorder Services Agency (CBSA) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to strengthen border controls andreduce the number of guns being smuggled across the our borders. These initiatives will build on work that is alreadyunderway.

Following hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts to our agencies by the previous Conservative government, we arerebuilding capacity. The CBSA is receiving $51.5 million over five years through the Initiative to Take Action Against Gunand Gang Violence to enhance its capacity to stem the flow of inadmissible travellers and illegal firearms enteringCanada at vulnerable points of entry and through postal facilities. It is also procuring equipment to enhance air cargosecurity and pallet imaging, intelligence collection and production abilities, and improving border operations throughmeasures aimed at enhancing the CBSA’s capacity to detect and interdict illegal firearms at the border. The CBSAcontinues to work with key domestic and US law enforcement partners to generate leads, as well as support and assistwith interdiction efforts.

In addition, the RCMP is receiving $34.5 million through the Initiative to Take Action Against Gun and Gang Violence toenhance its capacity to conduct investigations related to the criminal use of firearms as well as to provide lawenforcement with enhanced access to training, technology and data to keep illicit firearms out of Canada and detect andreport on criminal gang activities. The RCMP has created the Integrated Criminal Firearms Initiative to expand andenhance existing services available to support firearms investigations nationwide. This includes providing anonymousonline capabilities to investigate firearms trafficking and smuggling, conducting physical firearms inspections, enhancinganalytical capacity to develop and produce actionable intelligence, and supporting stakeholder outreach among partnersto advance focused initiatives. The RCMP is also prioritizing strategic intelligence analysis related to street gangs and theprocurement of advanced technologies to expedite and further support the analysis of ballistics and illicit manufacturingof firearms.

We will continue working to enhance public safety by focusing on prevention, effective law enforcement and strongcommunity partnerships.

Response by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Honourable David Lametti

On May 1, 2020, an Order in Council (OIC) came into force prohibiting certain assault-style firearms on the basis that they: (1) have semi-automatic action with sustained rapid-fire capability (tactical/military design with large magazine capacity; (2) are of modern design; and, (3) are present in large volumes in the Canadian market. An accompanying two-year Amnesty Order to protect law-abiding gun owners from criminal prosecution until they can come into compliance with the law was also made on the same date.

The Government has also announced its intention to introduce a buyback program.

The Governor-in-Council has had the power to prescribe firearms as prohibited or restricted by OIC for several decades. In 1998, this power was re-enacted in section 117.15 of the Criminal Code and this is the power used to make the OIC introduced on May 1, 2020.

The Government of Canada is committed to reconciliation with Indigenous people throughout the country based on a recognition of rights, respect, cooperation, and partnership as a foundation for change. Given this commitment, the Government is committed to measures to ensure that Indigenous peoples’ aboriginal and treaty rights to hunt under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 were not immediately impacted by the May 1, 2020, assault-rifle ban. To that end, the amnesty that accompanied the assault rifle ban made a limited exception for sustenance hunters and for those exercising a section 35 aboriginal or treaty right to allow these individuals to continue to use any of the newly prohibited firearms, if they were previously non-restricted, until a suitable replacement is found. All firearms owners must be in compliance with the prohibition by the end of the amnesty period, which expires on April 30, 2022.

Open for signature
May 5, 2020, at 11:39 a.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
September 2, 2020, at 11:39 a.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Todd Doherty (Cariboo—Prince George)
October 20, 2020 (Petition No. 432-00131)
Government response tabled
December 3, 2020
Photo - Todd Doherty
Cariboo—Prince George
Conservative Caucus
British Columbia